PLOT: Michael Gordon Peterson, aka Charles Bronson, is a bad fellow that has made a career over in England of being a prisoner. He takes hostages, he fights the guards and he seems genuinely happy that he is locked up. In the film, BRONSON spends an hour and a half or so talking with his audience (you, the ones watching at home or in the theatre) about his crimes and the way he thinks. And thanks to Tom Hardy as Peterson, you definitely get one amazing performance that will last you a while.
REVIEW:Tom Hardy is a name youll be hearing quite a bit about. His performance as professional convict in BRONSON is shockingly good. It is fearless, funny and one that might be remembered come award season. In fact, he is so good that I wanted to love the film that surrounded him. While there are some terrific ideas deep inside Bronson, it is a sometimes tedious affair. It is part one man show and part basic prison melodrama but it never seems to really go very far. So it is simply Tom Hardy who manages to make this ferociously witty characterization come to life. Whether he is naked, and fighting off prison guards, or performing his life story before an attentive audience, he breathes fire as Michael Gordon Peterson, aka Charles Bronson.
When director Nicholas Winding Refn introduces us to Britains most infamous prisoner, Peterson tells us a story of his love/hate relationship with the law. And those first few moments are intriguing as hell. This is a tough muther f*cker and he knows it. Seriously, whoever names themselves after tough guy Charles Bronson has to be some sort of bad ass. And Mr. Peterson is, he is intensely violent and seems to really enjoy his life behind bars. But when Tom appeals to his audience, those behind the forth wall, he is extremely charming, and dare I say likable? He can make you smile and he can even get you quivering with fear if he sends you the right look. And Mr. Hardy has no problem portraying this man in all his tough charm, whether you are seduced by it or not. This performance is easily the best thing the film has going for it.
The thing about biographical flicks is that you should come away with something about its subject. Yes, I watched Bronson twice, I studied the performance and the way it was shot, and everything else about it. The problem is, this guy spends most of his life locked up, and I dont feel like I know anything more about this real life criminal then I did before watching it the first time. It feels as if it is a wild and witty showcase, but not at all revealing about its subject. Yet even then, there are moments that shine. One includes a little bit of a dance party at a mental facility where Bronson was held for awhile. With The Pet Shop Boys, Its A Sin playing, and a group of the patients dancing around, it presents an oddball sight. Especially when it is interrupted by a screaming bald dude with a mustache. Yet even the fun or unique moments fade as it goes back into one man show mode. I have a feeling that this might be fascinating on stage.
In the end, I was mildly entertained by Bronson. It feels slow and monotonous, even with the sudden bursts of violence that are spread throughout. I wouldnt call it overly violent, but it has moments as Bronson picks off battles against anyone. He tells his story and we witness parts of it. But much of it includes his stage performance that by the first half hour, took away a little bit of the connection with what was going on. But again, as a live, theatrical experience, this might be one hell of a play. After all, that is truly what it is. A strong performance that is surrounded by bits and pieces of his life in mental institutions, prisons, and a whole lot of solitary confinement. Tom Hardy is so good that I didnt mind taking the ride, but it wasnt nearly as exciting and thought provoking as it should have been. Thank God Mr. Hardy saves much of it making for a sometimes entertaining, but also slightly empty biography. My rating 6.5/10 -- JimmyO
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